How To Speed Up Your Snail-Slow Notebook Computer

It's difficult to impossible to upgrade the components in most notebook computers. So, when a notebook computer runs slowly, if you don't take steps to improve its performance, often your only option is to toss it out and get a newer faster one.
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  1. Well written.

    Its a huge topic and some may quibble with missing something as you could write a 100pg article on the topic, I think it was very well done.
  2. Quote:
    Well written.

    Its a huge topic and some may quibble with missing something as you could write a 100pg article on the topic, I think it was very well done.

    huge topic indeed and I have to agree its pretty well written for the slightly better than above average computer user, knowledgewise tht is.

    /quibble on
    regestry cleaner not just defrag!
    /quibble off

    heh anyhow ttfn

    edit: after looking at the suggested software "PageDefrag from SysInternals" and toms article stating that "Bogus entries that point to non-existent or invalid files and resources represent a common example of useless, broken registry entries." sorta leads the reader to think that this software is a regestry cleaner. It's not.......
  3. Agreed, I would have liked to see a registry cleaner as well - the mess windows made on my laptop after 2 years of heavy use was ridiculous.

    Barry, follow-up article: upgrading notebook hardware! You know that you can swap out hard drives, dvd burners, add memory. The problem is, how do you get around systems using newer 1.8 inch hard drives, >128GB barrier limits, slave/master issues with burners, and newer systems with raid controllers. Top notch laptops even allow the gpu to be replaced.
  4. Its a good start.... and good for desktop's too....

    Looking forward to part 2 :)
  5. All the tips are excellent for ANY PC but from working with laptops for many years, I noticed that a few major components either deteriorate or become very quickly insufficient.

    Without being too long winded, I suggest two additional significant, but relatively inexpensive upgrades:

    A new Harddrive


    more memory

    A lot of the midrange laptops used 4200RPM diskdrives to save on price and maybe even on battery life. Nowadays, you can find a 60GB even 80GB 5400RPM drive for around $100 USD. The tricky part about this is that 2+ year old laptops can only recognize up to a certain capacity. I'd shy away from 7200RPM drives as well as some systems can not fully supply the drive with the amount of power needed and you may suffer wierd crashes or the drive may not work at all.

    More memory is also a great step in performance. Again, the tricky part is that systems only accept a certain amount of memory at a certain speed. Sites like makes the process much more simple. Memory speed is not an issue unless you're on a high-bred gaming laptop. Focus on getting more capacity, as this will be a better return on investment.

    Also, though not important in the speed factor, battery life is also important. Your laptop's battery could've been upgraded and became cheaper too! Check online retailers like 'laptop batteries for less' for a good deal too.
  6. An easy way to kill unwanted tasks to test and see what happens is to visit a site called anappaday and download the kill task program (I think that's what it is called). It kills all tasks except ones listed in a text file. You need microsoft .net v2 tho. Also, get tweak xp pro and it can release quite a lot of memory as well.
  7. This by far is the quickest and easiest way to speed up an old or new computer.
  8. Lot's of good tips for windows......but why not just eliminate the core problem....

    I have a p2-266/128mb Thinkpad that would take 2 min to load Word in Win98. It now runs a version of Puppy Linux where AbiWord starts in 4 seconds, and Firefox runs faster than IE ever did.
  9. Terrific article, thanks, and actually the principles apply perfectly well to desktop as well as laptops. The key difference is that for a given state of technology, laptops have MUCH slower hard drives, somewhat slower CPUs, and most often absolutely anemic video subsystems. So when optimizing a laptop, the most noticable improvements will come from improvements to disk I/O and video.

    While the price of Sysinternals' Contig and PageDefrag can't possibly be beat, I've found that the way programs like Diskeeper can reorganize your files and defrag the MFT is also vastly beneficial. Plus, once you install it and spend five minutes setting it up, you can forget about it completely. I use this software on every server, workstation and laptop I have and my employer - a fortune 500 company - specifies it in their standard server builds.

    Also, since slower disk I/O is such a problem (and upgrading to faster drives is costly as well as difficult or sometimes not possible due to engineering obstacles related to the extra power and heat), it's good to keep in mind that disk transfer rates decrease to half the speed at the outer zones of the disk, and that the fuller the disk is, the longer most random access times will be. So a thorough cleanup of the files on the hard drive is a great idea, hopefully to leave 50% of the space free, or more. And the free space allows disk optimizers to work better.

    Neosoul mentions performance improvements from memory upgrades. Indeed! Especially because paging is so awfully slow with laptop hard drives.

    Sysinternals has a program called Process Explorer which can help better identify processes and their owners. It can take the mystery out of all those SVCHOST entries, for example.

    The tip about organizing files is excellent and the recommendation to use folders sports an additional GUI performance benefit due to the way Windows' GUI manages icons and links. Likewise, mikefxu's idea to turn off Windows' eye candy speeds up the GUI and reduces the memory footprint.

    The article states that "stopping Word will force you to edit messages using Outlook's much less user friendly text editor." Actually Outlook's native editor is more the sufficient for most people and turning off the option to use Word represents a huge performance improvement right there.

    Keep up the good work!

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